The economy is slowly coming around, and customers are trickling back to their favorite stores. Unfortunately for The Home Depot (HD), its sweet spot – home construction projects – ain’t so sweet, with the housing market still trying to find a bottom (even a genius like The Street’s/Mad Money’s Jim Cramer can’t figure it out, having called a bottom in housing four separate times since the summer of 2009).
HD customers are coming in, but not for much more than a hammer, a box of nails, and a couple of two-by-fours. HD’s sales are barely 1% above last year. The company has been trying for some time to broaden its appeal to the female side of the household, and this apparently seemed as good a time as any to put on a full-court press.
Except that The Home Depot is putting the wrong team on the floor.
An article in Saturday’s New York Times indicated that HD was turning up the dial on its year-old partnership with Martha Stewart. More pricey items will be in stores this spring, to hopefully ratchet up the average ticket per sale, the metric HD needs to get real growth back on track.
Except that more Martha isn’t going to bring more women into The Home Depot. Her brand is rapidly approaching dilution level – she’s in Walmart for chrissake – and how many women are left who believe they can “create a herringbone chair” in 45 minutes?
Instead, it will be an improved in-store experience that will bring The Home Depot more female customers. And the gender to be addressed in that case is male. The men of The Home Depot are, with rare exception, butt ugly. What woman wants to shop where the guy in the orange smock at the end of the aisle looks like he just escaped prison?
HD needs to put out a casting call of sorts, to bring in the hottest guys to work the floor (so to speak). Given the recession, there are more unemployed actors than ever. “Working Home Depot” could replace “waiting tables” as the answer to “what are you doing between acting gigs?”
Put them in tight white t-shirts (or maybe no shirts), sexy cargo shorts, old-school Timberlands, and orange smocks about three sizes too tight. They don’t have to know or do anything. Just be out there on the floor and smile a lot. The women will be fighting over parking spaces and cutting the front of the line at the enter door (or maybe sneaking in through the exit door).